It is not always concerning temporal things and business affairs and such like that we are tested. But it is the business of the enemy of souls to contest every step on the way to victory. He will contest our salvation and, if possible, get a person to reason with him; and when you reason with the devil, you find him a good reasoner, if you allow him to follow his own line of thought. He will quote Scripture, and give plausible illustrations and logical reasonings. But when he is met as Christ met him, with a “Thus saith the Lord,” “It is written,” and then told what is written and where it is written, and such like, he is not very long in taking his departure. But just begin to reason, and he will entangle you in argument until you find yourself badly perplexed, unless, like the Master, you give him a sharp rebuke and command him to take his departure.
Perhaps it would be a benefit to someone for me to give a little of my own personal experience in this respect. At the age of fifteen I was converted, receiving a real change of heart. The enemy of my soul was never able to deny that fact, neither did he undertake it. For about ten years I lived to what light I had, and after that began to obtain more light in regard to entering into a deeper experience of divine life, or entire sanctification. I was away from home and had no one to teach me the way of holiness, but the Lord began to instruct me in His Word, and after a few months I was enabled to see just what the Lord required of me in order to obtain the experience desired.
I had felt a hungering and thirsting for something more, for a deeper experience. I had been taught, however, that this satisfying experience could not be obtained until just before the time of death; but as I read in the Word that “without [holiness] no man shall see the Lord,” (Hebrews 12:14) that we were to live “In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life,” (Luke 1:75) and that Jesus in His last prayer prayed that we might have that experience (John 17:17-20), I began to see very clearly what my privilege was. His Word told me, “As he is, so are we in this world,” (1 John 4:17) and, “[We] ought… to walk, even as he walked” (); this was a closer walk with God than I had been accustomed to enjoy.
It was not long until I reached the point where I made a full consecration, and died the death to the world, and then, like the apostles for whom Jesus prayed, I was in the world, but not of the world, having had that worldly disposition taken out of my heart. When I reached the point where I positively knew that everything was laid upon the altar Christ Jesus, then I realized of a truth that the altar sanctified the gift, and my heart was cleansed from all unrighteousness. The Bible began to open up to me as a new book, and as I went about my Master’s business, doing His will as far as He made it known, I had many rich experiences. Although, being of a very quiet disposition naturally, I could not leap and shout as some, yet it was my privilege to “be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19)
A few months later I was called by the Lord to accept a responsible position in His work. For some months everything went so smoothly that I had perfect victory all the way along and nothing that I could call a severe trial or battle, because my eyes were stayed upon the Lord. But there came a time for advancing further against the enemy, and the Lord saw it was necessary for me to know more about a perfect faith and trust in Him in order to deal with other souls. So He permitted me to be tested, to fit me for the work He had for me to do.
Although my soul had been abounding in the riches of His glory for these months as I was busily engaged in my work, one day a suggestion was made to me by a silent voice that I had not had any overflowing blessings for a few days. This did not disturb me, for I felt at perfect peace with God. But soon the same suggestion was presented again and again. Finally the silent voice or impression came on this wise: “Now you have been in this condition almost a week.” I felt that my soul during that time had been at peace with God, and I was trusting my case in His hands. I began, however, to search my consecration, as the accuser suggested that there must surely be something wrong.
I began to search my heart, and said, “If there is anything wrong, Lord, I will make it all right,” and I asked the Lord to search me. Feeling that all was fully in the hands of the Lord, I was about to dismiss the matter from my mind; but this suggestion came: “If you were sanctified, you would not have a lack of that great joy.” Then I said, “Lord, if I am not sanctified, I am willing to get sanctified.” So I began to reconsecrate myself to the Lord, and presently I realized that I was fully consecrated to God. Again I was ready to dismiss the matter, but the voice said, “When a person falls from sanctification, he loses his justification also, because he must commit sin in order to fall.” Yes, I realized that was so, and then came the words, “You are not saved.” I saw at once that it was the enemy, instead of the Lord, talking to me, and like a flash from heaven I rebuked him. I said, “I know I am saved through the grace of God; yes, and sanctified, too.” And I boldly declared it, whereupon the enemy took his departure. He saw that he was the one defeated, instead of me.
The enemy had thought that because I was young in the Lord’s work I was unable to know his devices. But the Lord was a match for him, and lifted up a standard against him, instead of allowing me to be defeated and overthrown. The Lord knew just how far to permit me to be tried and tempted. This experience has been a source of much help to me since that time; not only for myself, but in dealing with others. The devil is sure to overstep the mark, and we can have the victory over him as long as we keep our eyes stayed upon the Lord. And we can say like Paul, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)
There are some who worry and fret and have an abundance of trouble when it is their own fault; and if they would put forth as great an effort to gain a victory and keep it as they do to pet their troubles, there would be a wonderful change and the enemy of souls would be defeated.
A few years ago I met a brother who was weighted down with trouble and sorrows much more than with the glory of God, and was much of the time mourning over his trials and temptations, until his lot did really seem to be a sad one. During my Christian experience I had been having sweeping victory over the powers of the enemy, even through the severe trials and temptations, because I had kept my eyes upon the Lord, and had looked for victories instead of trials. In considering the case of the brother, although I was young in the gospel work, I concluded that if people were in such a condition it was their own fault, and that I could feel as bad as anyone if I desired. So I concluded to experiment, but first asked the Lord not to permit me to fall into the hands of the devil.
Accordingly, though I had nothing whatever to feel bad about, I threw myself on a couch and began to sigh and try to feel bad over something. It was but a few minutes until I really did begin to feel miserable. Someone came and desired to know if I was in trouble, but I turned away and would not answer. In a short time I was feeling miserable enough to weep and moan, and even bewail my condition. I then went to my room, fastened the door, and began to call mightily upon God for deliverance from such a condition. I had to put forth no little effort and take God at His word and gain the victory over the powers of Satan. I there learned the lesson that anyone can feel bad and have a sorrowful time whether or not he really has anything to feel bad about; but I never desired to repeat the experiment. I have also found that God has power not only to deliver from such a condition, but to keep the soul filled with glory even through the severest testings.